Trump, Biden fight over the virus, oil, climate and race

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden fought over how to tame the raging coronavirus and other topics during the campaign’s closing debate, largely shelving the rancor that overshadowed their previous face-off in favor of a more substantive exchange that highlighted their vastly different approaches to the major domestic and foreign challenges facing the nation.

The president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.” Biden countered that the nation was heading toward “a dark winter.”

With less than two weeks until the election, Trump portrayed himself as the same outsider he first pitched to voters four years ago, repeatedly saying he wasn’t a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader of a country facing multiple crises and tried to connect what he saw as the president’s failures to the everyday lives of Americans, especially when it comes to the pandemic.

The president, who promised a vaccine within weeks, said the worst problems are in states with Democratic governors, a contention at odds with rising cases in states that voted for Trump in 2016. Biden, meanwhile, vowed that his administration would defer to scientists on battling the pandemic and said that Trump’s divisive approach on suffering states hindered the nation’s response.

“I don’t look at this in terms of the way he does—blue states and red states,” Biden said. “They’re all the United States. And look at all the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus—they’re the red states.”

After a first debate defined by angry interruptions, the Thursday event featured a mostly milder tone. And in a campaign defined by ugly personal attacks, the night featured a surprising amount of substantive policy debate as the two broke sharply on the environment, foreign policy, immigration and racial justice.

The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was a final chance for each man to make his case to a television audience of tens of millions. And questions swirled beforehand as to how Trump, whose hectoring performance at the first debate was viewed by aides as a mistake that turned off viewers, would perform amid a stretch of the campaign in which he has taken angry aim at the news media and unleashed personal attacks on Biden and his adult son, Hunter Biden.

Trump’s campaign held a surprise pre-debate news conference featuring Tony Bobulinski, Hunter Biden’s former business partner, who alleged that the vice president’s son consulted with his father on China-related business dealings.

Early in the debate, Trump sought to make good on promises from his campaign that he would challenge Biden over Hunter’s alleged foreign business deals. The president accused Biden of being a “corrupt” politician and claimed that he Biden had been paid $3.5 million from Russia through his son’s business dealings.

“I think you owe an explanation to the American people” Trump said, turning to Biden. “I think you have to clean it up and talk to the American people—maybe you can do it right now.”

Biden offered an unequivocal denial, saying “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source at any time in my life.” He declared the discussion about family entanglements “malarkey” and accused Trump of not wanting to talk about the substantive issues.

Biden ran afoul of the facts at times as he made his case against Trump. At one point, he claimed that no one lost their health insurance during the Obama administration, which is not true. Millions of people lost their health insurance when Obamacare was implemented. He also appeared to apologize for the immigration record of the Obama administration, which included large numbers of deportations and no comprehensive legislation to help undocumented immigrants. “We made a mistake,” Biden said. “It took too long to get it right.”

When Trump repeatedly asked Biden if he would “close down the oil industry,” the Democratic standard-bearer said he “would transition from the oil industry, yes,” and that he would replace it by renewable energy “over time.” Trump, making a direct appeal to voters in energy producing states like Texas and the vital battleground of Pennsylvania, seized upon the remark as “a big statement.”

Perhaps sensing that the comment could soon appear in Trump campaign ads, Biden did a little clean-up boarding his plane after the debate, declaring “We’re not going to ban fossil fuels. We’ll get rid of the subsidies of fossil fuels but not going to get rid of fossil fuels for a long time.”

As the debate swept to climate change, Trump explained his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord negotiated in 2015, declaring it was an unfair pact that would have cost the country trillions of dollars and hurt businesses.

Trump repeatedly claimed Biden’s plan to tackle climate change and invest in green industries was developed by “AOC plus three,” referring to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biden chuckled during much of Trump’s answer and said, “I don’t know where he comes from.”

On race, Biden called out Trump’s attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, declaring that the president “pours fuel on every single racist fire.”

“You know who I am. You know who he is. You know his character. You know my character,” Biden said. The rivals’ reputations for “honor and for telling to truth” are clear, he said.

Trump countered by pointing out his efforts on criminal justice reform and blasting Biden’s support of a 1990s Crime Bill that disproportionately incarcerated Black men. Staring into the crowd, he declared himself “the least racist person in this room.”

Turning to foreign policy, Biden accused Trump of dealing with a “thug” while holding summits with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. And closer to home, the former vice president laced into the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents trying to illegally cross the southern border.

Biden said that America has learned from a New York Times report that Trump only paid $750 a year in federal taxes while holding “a secret bank account” in China. The former vice president then noted he’s released all of his tax returns going back 22 years and challenged the president to release his returns, saying, “What are you hiding?”

Trump said he closed his former account in China and claimed his accountants told him he “prepaid tens of millions of dollars” in taxes. However, as he has for the past four years after promising to release his taxes, he declined to say when he might do so.

Trump said that when it comes to health care, he would like “to terminate” the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, even amid a pandemic, and come up “with a brand new beautiful health care,” that protects coverage for preexisting conditions. Biden said the president has been talking about making such a move for years but “he’s never come up with a plan.”

He also denounced Trump’s claim that Biden wanted to socialize medicine, creating daylight between himself and the more liberal members of his party whom he defeated in the Democratic primaries.

“He thinks he’s running against somebody else,” the former vice president said. “He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.”

It remained to be seen if Trump, who is trailing in the race, managed to change the trajectory of the campaign. More than 47 million votes have already have been cast.

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14 thoughts on “Trump, Biden fight over the virus, oil, climate and race

    1. Agree with Grant, who delivered a beatdown? I thought it was a draw, which would be a win for Biden. The 4 polls I have seen this morning point to a definitive win for Biden, which is more than I would give him credit for.

  1. Both candidates did what they needed to do. Biden continued to describe his policies and contrast his approach to the Presidency with Trump’s. Trump worked hard to place the socialist banner on Biden. Really at this point the vast majority of voters have made up their minds. Both candidates played to their bases to try to ensure they get their supporters to vote.

    1. Paul your correct. Very stark differences between the two. Take Covid for example. Trump is saying we need to open things back up and accept some deaths whereas Joe personalized it and basically said one death is too many if it’s your loved one and we must do whatever it takes to prevent that. You have very clear choices based on your own beliefs. Did this debate change any minds? Probably not.

  2. Personalities aside this debate finally showed some major policy differences between the two. I can’t for the life of me believe their are undecided voters. The two of them only reflect back to us how different we have become in this country. Too me all of those differences add up to problems that neither of these men can fix. I laugh now stressing out over a past Bush or Clinton choice when center right or center left meant small differences. We now have major divisions as a country where there is no longer room for compromise and both sides are dug in. Time will tell, but this debate clearly gave some stark policy differences to choose from. One major theme for me that is emerging and I invite opinions is that Trump is and always has been a US first President and that’s why he ran in the first place. Biden on the other hand like Obama has a view that we are part of a bigger world and no more important than anyone else. I liked this debate. They both did a decent job of highlighting their differences.

    1. Trump has been a “Trump first” president, and that’s why he ran in the first place. He has financially enriched himself while in office while paying only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 (while running for president and promising to release his tax returns but never doing so) and again in 2017 (his first year in office). He claims that only he can restore our economy, but has not provided any details for doing so. Meanwhile hundreds of economists (including several Nobel laureates) are urging voters to reject Trump for a second term.

    2. Brent, you can’t honestly think that he ran for President to get richer? If you want to say he has an ego the size of Texas I’ll give you that, but he certainly didn’t need the money, but you do bring up a great point. Why are politicians on all sides able to greatly enrich themselves and their families from being politicians. That part of it all really bothers me when it’s supposed to be about public service.

    3. Jeff A., I agree with you for the most part, but I think you’re drawing too stark a comparison on nationalism vs globalism. Trump says it’s USA first, but he’s been ham-handed about how he deals with other countries. Biden appears to support a return to a more cooperative approach – I wouldn’t characterize it as that he thinks we are no more important than anyone else so much as we need the cooperation of allies to accomplish important issues – we can’t go it alone and succeed.

  3. Ham-handed, Randy? Hasn’t Trump brokered more meaningful peace deals than Obozo & Biden ever dreamed of? Get real and pay attention to what Trump has done and quit getting butt-hurt over his personality.

  4. From the start, Trump has rode on the coat tails of the good economy from the Obama administration, he inherited it.
    Why does Trump have an account in China? He wants to make more money. Why does Trump want to be buddies with Putin? He owes Putin money ( Trump tower), he doesn’t want to upset Putin. Why does Putin want Trump in power? To continue to destroy America. We have lost our friends, our Allies, our respect in the World because of Trump. Trump stands last night saying he cares about our environment but he has done everything to remove policies and safeguards in place by past Presidents back to Teddy Roosevelt.
    America does want Trump’s coal and dirty fossil fuels. We want clean renewable energy, solar, wind, water, etc. Biden will get us back in the programs we need and restore our reputation in the world.
    Lastly, you say Jeff A., Trump is US first, is such a joke. Trump cares about Trump first. Yes, Jeff A., Trump doesn’t need the money but he is greedy, not just for money, but greedy for power.

    1. Lorna can I get the name of your dealer because he is selling you some good stuff.

      Demanding our “Allies” pay their share of NATO expenses is bad? Standing up for the US is bad? Name one other world leader that isn’t looking out for their countries best interest.

  5. Rhea,
    Having our NATO Allies pay their share is good. Calling China out for unfair trade is good. It is the method ,the way Trump does things, that is concerning. Trump doesn’t know how to negotiate and treat people and Countries with respect. Trump is a bully, and doesn’t listen to anyone. Like a big baby, he just takes his toys and goes home. Do you want a self-centered, egotistic bully who is only interested in domination to get his way? Or do you want a person who has compassion, empathy, and respect for others?
    America was great before Trump. The World looked up to us as a Leader. The World is now concerned and amazed at America’s decline. We are no longer the Leader who sets the good example. America has closed her welcoming arms and ripped children from the arms of their parents. Why? Paranoia, superiority, a lack of common decency and respect for fellow human beings. China, Russia, Iran, all our enemies love the discord and chaos Trump has caused. They relish is the decline of America and our values. Open your eyes Rhea, and all who don’t see Trump for what he is.

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